Off the chains

6 San Antonio fried chicken sandwiches better than anything at Popeyes or Chick-fil-A

6 San Antonio fried chicken sandwiches better than anything at Popeyes

Smackerel San Antonio
Smackerel offers some of the best chicken sandwiches around. Smackerel/Facebook

Now entering its second week, the Great Chicken Sandwich War between Popeyes, Wendy’s, and Chick-fil-A has become as tiresome as Taylor Swift’s innumerable feuds. Let the national chains squabble and flock to these San Antonio spots instead. We’re sorry, but they have the best chicken sandwiches of all time.

Cullum’s Attagirl
It can be difficult choosing an emoji to describe Cullum’s San Antonio hot chicken sandwich. Heart eyes are certainly appropriate, whether on a cat or a smiley face. And the flavors certainly have us dancing like a pair of twins wearing bunny ears. Nah, the wholly original creation can only be described one way. From the cerveza masa breading to the one-two punch of Mexican spiced hot oil and spicy crema, it’s nothing short of fire.

Down on Grayson
While mass-produced chicken sandwiches tend to be soggy, the offering at this Pearl-area fave comes out shatteringly crisp every time, thanks to a panko crust. The texture isn’t the only thing that makes the dish sing. Down on Grayson plays delicate baby Swiss cheese against the sweet tang of house balsamic slaw, then ties it together with a smear of garlic aioli. It’s a classic with a little oomph — like a cover song that’s better than the original.

Earl Abel’s
This Alamo City institution is known for its fried chicken, so it’s a no-brainer that the signature dish would taste just as good on a bun. Still, the Korean sandwich manages to take it to another level. Fiery gochujang (a fermented red chili paste) kicks up the usual five-ounce breaded breast. A tumble of Asian slaw adds crunch and tons of visual appeal.

Fattboy Burgers & Dogs
There’s something a little comical about Fattboy’s largest chicken sandwich. Ruffled lettuce and an enormous breaded cutlet drape over the bottom bun, making the top bun look like a jaunty beret. But excess is precisely the point. Sure customers can order a juicy grilled chicken breast or a smaller Slimmchick, but nothing beats the original loaded up with cheese, bacon, and avocado.

Francis Bogside
The chicken sandwich may be as Irish as yellowtail sushi, but that didn’t stop this contemporary pub from putting a version on the menu. San Antonians should thank their stars that it did. Whether grilled or fried, the Southtown pub’s patties are never dry and don’t need much more than garlic aioli to bring out the flavor. For a pairing, try a Texas IPA instead of a Guinness — and definitely upgrade to the truffle fries.

Smackerel
A patty and a few pickles is far from being the zenith of chicken sandwich creativity. At this roving pop-up concept, mad scientist Keenen Hendricks is just as likely to scoop mac ’n’ cheese or Neapolitan ice cream on a bun as he is to add slaw. Traditional or experimental, the flavors somehow all come together. Get the Nashville Hot, a spicy masterpiece that makes fast friends out of honey and cool ranch sour cream.